Jiamonte Johnson, 14, scanned the practice algebra test before him on May 9. The Kingsbridge freshman at New Vision Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science skipped the first question about the circumference of a pizza. He and the four students surrounding him at the library table calculated the age of two brothers with information from two equations. Jiamonte announced he would “graph out” the next problem.
Since Jiamonte began attending the weekly after-school Regents prep course on April 4, he said he’s seen his score on mock math Regents exams jump from 73 to 82.
“When I come down here, I get to practice what I learned upstairs … My math teacher is very good. But it’s hard to remember because he introduces one subject and then does one day of review. Then the next day, he introduces a new subject,” said Jiamonte. “I feel pretty excited for [the Regents] because ever since I came here, I’ve been doing pretty good.”
When the freshman class gets dismissed two-and-a-half hours early each Wednesday, Jiamonte and nearly 30 of his peers head to the library. They sit four or five to a table, collaboratively working through past exams in subjects like living environment and algebra. Students and staff from Manhattan College’s Optimal College Readiness Center point freshman in the right direction during the tests and review the answers at the end of the two-hour program.
Ruby Bermudez, the assistant director of the Optimal College Readiness Center, said the college partnered with Urban Ellis, the director of the New Marble Hill Tenants and Civic Association, to bring its college prep program onto the John F. Kennedy High School Campus. JFK, which will graduate its last class in 2014, was known for having a high dropout rate.
The Optimal College Readiness Center decided to work with students at one of the new charter schools inside JFK to help keep students on track. Mr. Ellis, who has spearheaded several academic programs for underserved youth since retiring, said he knew the consequences of dropping out first hand.